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Exhibition takes travelers 'out of this world'

By Maria Jose Subiria

As part of a global recognition of 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is currently displaying a group of out-of-this-world photos.

The images in the "From Earth to the Universe" exhibit are on display on Concourses A through D, through Dec. 31, according to Christopher De Pree, director of the Bradley Observatory at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, and a local member of the program committee for the International Year of Astronomy. The images were taken by professionals and amateurs, using different levels of technology including satellites, telescopes and cameras, he said.

The Year of Astronomy celebrates astronomy's contribution to the world's society, and culture, and commemorates the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first use of the telescope for astronomy, said De Pree.

"When we saw the images, we were struck by their beauty, and exquisite detail, and we knew this would be an exhibit that would have broad appeal to both passengers, and fellow employees," said Katherine Marbury, arts program manager for the Airport Art Program at Hartsfield-Jackson. "We also liked the idea of Hartsfield-Jackson being part of the global celebration of the International Year of Astronomy.

"Chris De Pree approached us about bringing the exhibit here, since we had the physical space to hang the pictures in a way that would allow viewers to see images starting with Earth, and moving out to the farthest reaches of the universe," Marbury said.

Versions of the "From Earth to the Universe" exhibition are also currently being shown in California, Indiana, Tennessee, The Netherlands, Lithuania, and France, according to the "From Earth to the Universe" web site.

According to De Pree, there were a total of 150 3-foot by 4-foot panels that the Airport Art Program at Hartsfield-Jackson could choose from for its exhibition. The airport is showing the same 50 images that are currently displayed in a traveling version of "From Earth to the Universe," which started at Tucson, Ariz., De Pree said.

He said the airport provides a venue for the exhibition that is accessible to those in the Atlanta area, and travelers from all over the world. "For me, it's a nice symbolic location," he said.

De Pree said he created a "Metro Atlanta Solar System" display to add to the "From Earth to the Universe" exhibition. The display features different parts of metro Atlanta represented as planets in the solar system.

According to De Pree, he has been a member of the U.S. program committee for the International Year of Astronomy for three years. Through the committee, he became aware of the "From Earth to the Universe" exhibit, and became the local organizer. He said he received a $35,000 grant in February from the NASA Education and Public Outreach program to exhibit "From Earth to the Universe."

In addition to the exhibition, the Airport Art Program at Hartsfield-Jackson will host a display of artistic responses to "From Earth to the Universe" by different artists, said Marbury. Fifteen artists have been invited to create works on paper to be displayed in the Atrium beginning the second week of September.

Marbury said "From Earth to the Universe" has, so far, been popular with travelers.

"Some of these images represent the furthest we can 'see' into the reaches of our galaxy, as well as, in some sense, backward in time," she said. "I've observed more than one passenger stopped in their tracks by the photographs."


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